Monday, January 11, 2010

Leaving New York

This evening we walked home through Hell's Kitchen. Ted used to live here. We found his old apartment, walked inside the still broken front door and found that his name is on his old buzzer. He used to have mold growing on the walls. It wasn't the nicest of places.

As we walked down "Restaurant Row," I found myself continuing to look upward, still entranced by these majestic buildings. At every turn, I find something unusual, something that piques my interest, something I want to photograph. How long would I have to live here for this
wonder to go away?

When I was 23, I left the United States borders for the first time by flying to Budapest. I couldn't believe I was there. I had this sense of amazement that Hungarians also ate french fries and that their trees looked the same as ours. Looking back, I don't know what I was expecting. These were the days before high-speed internet, so I didn't have city photo blogs to look at (at least that's my excuse for being so naive and stupid). I just spent the first few days there in nonstop amazement, excitement, giddiness even, to be in a new and foreign place.

For years after that, I would sometimes lament how this wonder was probably lost forever. I was no longer a travel virgin. I did feel a little bit of that wonder when we first landed in Addis Ababa, but that was different because it was late at night and I was distracted by more important things. I think I had figured that my wide-eyed wonder was gone for good.

Not so. I've spent this last month wide-eyed, sometimes mouth-agape. I can't stop looking. I look up at the tops of buildings, down to the interesting garbage on the street (no kidding), inside shop windows, and my favorite: through the subway window into the subway train that is traveling along side me. I so love when this happens. We clip along, clip along, clip along, together, two trains full of people, on separate tracks, no one minding the other, and then whoooosh! one of us speeds away. Just once, I want a passenger on my parallel train, my brief subway travel buddy, to look up at me, wave, maybe blow a kiss. That might make my whole year if it happened.

I love this city. I really do. Today while wrapping up a leisurely lunch with this lady, that wonderful Alicia Keyes song started playing, "Empire State of Mind." How perfect was that? I had to stop myself from tearing up.

I have loved being here.
I don't want to stay, mind you. I miss big majestic trees in the Pacific Northwest. I want the comforts of my own home, and I really miss my friends and neighbors at home. I'm ready to go back to some form of normal life. But the best gift I've gotten from being in New York City for a month was that I was able to experience that "23-year-old in Budapest" feeling all over again. I thought it was gone forever. New York brought it back to me.

Dear city, thank you: for a month, you made me naive and stupid again. That was an amazing gift.


kn said...

this cannot be the last one, is it? no.
lunch was my vacation
and of course, i didn't even notice the alicia keyes
man oh man

thank you for reintroducing the city to us almost jaded new yorkers

and thank you thank you thank you for bring abe for coffee - he was my budapest moment - so sweet - so long ago - so naive and stupid


safe travels friend
i know your old friends cannot wait to have you home

Claudia said...

I'm living this new york trip so vicariously through you that when *I* heard Empire State of Mind yesterday, it made *me* think of your new york trip. Yeah, creepy stalker alert I guess. But it is a great song :)

coffeemom said...

That giddy wonder and ability to see the details and make the connections that you have and that you crave is built in Dear Lori. You can't help it. It's part of who you are, one of the best parts. This post made me smile, on a tough morning.

Christine said...

I'll miss all your moments in NYC. Seeing it through your eyes has been wonderful. Whether it is big majestic trees or big majestic buildings, it seems to me that the wonder is in you.

Heidi said...

As Kristin said, thank you for reintroducing that NYC wonder to those of us who have gotten a bit jaded by the daily grind of living here! I am truly sorry we didn't get a chance to meet. The holidays and business trip had me out of town and then getting the call completely threw me for a loop. I hope that there is a next time! Until then, enjoy your lovely home, which holds much wonder for me these days. I think I am craving a slower pace of life as I gear up for everthing to SPEED up with our full-of-life toddler boys!

Calmil2 said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with us!! It was beautifully written and so inspiring. I'm already trying to think of where I want to take my family for a month. Oh, that feeling of amazement...I had it when we went to France and Italy for our Honeymoon. It felt like being in another world and yet so many aspects were the same.
Safe travels home :)

The Busters said...

I have loved reading all your New York Posts! I was born in Manhattan but only lived there until I was 6 years old so it has been great to experience the wonder through an adult's eyes. I went back several years ago to run the marathon and I was basically teary from start to finish. Partly from physical pain but mostly from just being so happy to be there and take in all the sites and smells of New York. Thank you for taking all of us along and safe travels home.

Ms. Fricknfrack said...

I LOVED reading/seeing NYC through your eyes. Please don't go...

Unknown said...

That's amazing. What was the occasion of being here for a whole month?

You chose a tricky month, too! Others would have been wusses and opted for May or June. Mark would have chosen October.

I have to say that having lived here a bunch of years (let's not tally it all up since it's into the double digits), I haven't lost that wonder, and I'm not sure why that's the case.

Perhaps it's because the city is a mix of old and new? There are layers of history here, but then there's the latest thing. And there are unexpected things too, large and small.

And I've had that sense of looking at garbage, so I know what you mean. You're not crazy. I loved reading that Ted's name is still on his buzzer. His name is a layer of history, too.

I'm so glad the city had such an effect on you and hope you return again soon. You came away with stellar photos.